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Is Job Flexibility More Important Than Salary?

For everyone worldwide, 2020 turned things upside down and set the decade for change. Over the last few years I have been hearing regularly from my candidates that work life balance is more important to them than ever and is motivating their decisions on who they work for. There is certainly no shortage of candidates “out there” but the top tier candidates have choices and it is important to be aware of their needs and desires in order to attract and retain the “stars”.

It used to be that money was the primary and perhaps the only “driver” in this area. “What is the salary” was often the first and last question asked. Certainly salary is still important, but in addition, candidates want to work for more progressive companies that offer more flexibility in the work environment.

I have identified a number of areas of key focus:


What comes up regularly as the most important issue to candidates is working for a company that offers a hybrid work environment. As companies try to veer away from this option, candidates have become used to the flexibility it offers and it is often difficult to get them to accept a new job if it isn’t offered. Hybrid comes in many shapes and forms, some companies having dictated days that “everyone is in the office” to others having 1 or 2 days per week as flex days. Employees want to know that there is some level of flexibility to work from home whether it is because they aren’t feeling well but don’t want to “call in sick” to having sick kids, elderly parents or pets that prevent them from coming in to the office for a few days. It is a way to keep employees working and feeling that their needs are recognized as important and that they can be trusted to get the necessary work done.

Flexible Hours

Many employees are no longer content to simply clock in Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. There is more emphasis on flexibility. Options can be “set core hours” of 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. where your team is expected to be available, but with the employees having the flexibility of starting work anywhere between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. and leaving anywhere after 2:00 p.m. Having certain days/hours as “core” allows workers to know when to schedule collaborative activities and training. This allows for better and safer access to transit, less stress getting children to school, allows for a morning workout and in the end results in a more productive and satisfied member of your team.

Sick Days/Family Days

These are more important than ever, not only for the care/comfort of the sick employee but also to protect your staff. The days of struggling in to work while sick are over and it is imperative that companies provide adequate sick days. A certain number of sick days may also be extended to family members that your employee may be caring for (children and/or aging parents). One way to make it equitable for those who don’t use the time (often leading to discontent) is to allow employees to transfer unused days to a “credit account” which can be used for additional vacation days or personal days in the future.

Flexible Benefit Packages

Companies often have a standard benefits package to offer employees. We are also seeing more options where employees can “top up” their benefits by selecting from a customized package. The employees can select benefits that most suit not only their needs but the needs of their family. For example, a family of 4 may have increased requirements for dental and eyeglass care while a single person may want to focus on a gym membership or a transit pass as a benefit that is more appropriate for them. Although these types of plans are more work to manage (not a one size fits all), the benefit to the company is a more content employee.

Vacation Days

Most companies have a very set standard of vacation with the least attractive offering the minimum “government standard” of 2 weeks annually to more progressive companies offering 3-4 weeks’ vacation. I have found vacation time to be near and dear to the candidate’s hearts. A generous vacation package is for many, more important (within reason) than the salary. Allowing employees to bank days to plan for longer vacations and to transfer “credits” from overtime or from unused sick days, is a way to provide more on the “happiness” scale for your employees - which leads to better retention.


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